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Vaccination with poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles loaded with soluble Leishmania antigens and modified with a TNFα-mimicking peptide or monophosphoryl lipid A confers protection against experimental visceral leishmaniasis

Authors Margaroni M, Agallou M, Athanasiou E, Kammona O, Kiparissides C, Gaitanaki C, Karagouni E

Received 4 May 2017

Accepted for publication 20 June 2017

Published 23 August 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 6169—6184


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

Maritsa Margaroni,1,2 Maria Agallou,1 Evita Athanasiou,1 Olga Kammona,3 Costas Kiparissides,3,4 Catherine Gaitanaki,2 Evdokia Karagouni1

1Laboratory of Cellular Immunology, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 2Department of Animal and Human Physiology, School of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, 3Chemical Process & Energy Resources Institute, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, 4Department of Chemical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Abstract: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) persists as a major public health problem, and since the existing chemotherapy is far from satisfactory, development of an effective vaccine emerges as the most appropriate strategy for confronting VL. The development of an effective vaccine relies on the selection of the appropriate antigen and also the right adjuvant and/or delivery vehicle. In the present study, the protective efficacy of poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) nanoparticles (NPs), which were surface-modified with a TNFα-mimicking eight-amino-acid peptide (p8) and further functionalized by encapsulating soluble Leishmania infantum antigens (sLiAg) and monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA), a TLR4 ligand, was evaluated against challenge with L. infantum parasites in BALB/c mice. Vaccination with these multifunctionalized PLGA nanoformulations conferred significant protection against parasite infection in vaccinated mice. In particular, vaccination with PLGA-sLiAg-MPLA or p8-PLGA-sLiAg NPs resulted in almost complete elimination of the parasite in the spleen for up to 4 months post-challenge. Parasite burden reduction was accompanied by antigen-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Specifically, injection with PLGA-sLiAg-MPLA raised exclusively anti-sLiAg IgG1 antibodies post-vaccination, while in p8-PLGA-sLiAg-vaccinated mice, no antibody production was detected. However, 4 months post-challenge, in mice vaccinated with all the multifunctionalized NPs, antibody class switching towards IgG2a subtype was observed. The study of cellular immune responses revealed the increased proliferation capacity of spleen cells against sLiAg, consisting of IFNγ-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Importantly, the activation of CD8+ T cells was exclusively attributed to vaccination with PLGA NPs surface-modified with the p8 peptide. Moreover, characterization of cytokine production in vaccinated–infected mice revealed that protection was accompanied by significant increase of IFNγ and lower levels of IL-4 and IL-10 in protected mice when compared to control infected group. Conclusively, the above nanoformulations hold promise for future vaccination strategies against VL.

Keywords: nanovaccine, soluble Leishmania antigen, visceral leishmaniasis, immune response, T cells, cytokines

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